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Costus vinosus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA LILIOPSIDA ZINGERBERALES COSTACEAE

Scientific Name: Costus vinosus
Species Authority: Maas
Taxonomic Notes: Costus vinosus was described by Paul Maas in 1976 from a single collection in 1973.  It is a very distinctive species with waxy leaves that have deep wine-red undersides and unique cup-shaped ligules making it very easy to recognize whether in flower or not.  There are no known taxonomic issues with this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A3c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v); C1+2a(i,ii); D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-03-10
Assessor(s): Skinner, D.
Reviewer(s): Magos Brehm, J.
Justification:
This species has only four recorded collections in 1973, 1974, 1986 and 2004 indicating it is rare in the wild. It has only been collected at three localities, one of which has been deforested and converted to pasture land with no plants still in existence there. At the other two localities, the collectors have informed this assessor that the species was not common and few plants were found.  The species is distinct enough from other Costus species that it would likely have more collections recorded by botanists if it existed in substantial subpopulations or other localities. The known localities are not in protected areas. The species is widely cultivated and well known to be difficult to grow and bring to flower indicating that it is sensitive to habitat change. Since the last collection record was ten years ago, it is possible that this species is extinct in the wild or very nearly so.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Costus vinosus is known only from three locations in central Panama on the Caribbean side where there have been only 4 recorded collections.  The type was collected in 1973 along the Rio Guanche in Colon province at 50 metres but this area has experienced substantial habitat loss and several recent searches along the river have failed to find the plant still in existence there.  The last recorded collection there was in 1974. This assessor searched for C. vinosus in 2012, thoroughly checking small forest fragments remaining along the river, up river a distance of about five km and concluded that the species is no longer extant at this location.  Noted Marantaceae botanist Dr. Helen Kennedy told the assessor that her type specimen for Calathea gymnocarpa, which grows at the same low altitudes, has also disappeared from the Rio Guanche area due to conversion to pasture land.

The second location is a collection recorded in 1986 at 65 metres altitude along the "Rio Taindi (Taimdi on maps)" six km above the confluence with the Rio Mandinga. Based on the GPS coordinates given, this river is probably also known as Rio Cangandi on some maps. The determination was made by Greg de Nevers who was also the co-collector. Costus vinosus is a very distinctive species so this assessor has a high degree of confidence in the identification.

The third location is a collection recorded in 2004 at 250 metres altitude and a more inland location on the Santa Rita ridge of the Sierra Llorona.  This was collected and determined by Paul Maas who described the species in 1976.

With only two widely separated collection sites where the species is believed to exist, it is difficult to calculate an Extent of Occurrence (EOO) in square km.  A third point was set on the GeoCAT map to extend the area along the Rio Taindi where this species may still exist.  This resulted in an EOO calculation of 50 km2.  Based on the rarity of this species and the lack of other collection records, a two km wide square was used around these points to calculate the Area of Occupancy (AOO) of 12 km2.
Countries:
Native:
Panama
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is believed to be gone from the area along the Rio Guanche where the type specimen was collected.  The last recorded collection was in 1974 and the area has since been deforested and converted to pasture land.  This assessor and others have searched for the species at Rio Guanche in the past several years without success. 

The Rio Taindi location collection was made in 1986 by Greg de Nevers and Heraclio Herrera.  Sr. Herrera was contacted by email and reported that he vaguely remembers the plant and it was not common in the Rio Taindi region.  He is the Director of Environment for the National Indigenous Peoples Coordinating Body of Panama, COONAPIP (Coordinadora Nacional De Los Pueblos Indígenas De Panama) and he knows the San Blas area well. He said he may have seen similar plants but could not say whether they were Costus vinosus.  He said, in his opinion, this species is gradually disappearing. 

The third collection at Santa Rita Ridge was made in 2004 by Dr. Paul Maas who first described the species in 1976 from the Rio Guanche population.  Dr. Maas has informed the assessor that he recalls observing only two to three plants in the Santa Rita subpopulation.

No other collection records have been found.  This is a very distinctive and noticeable species, and is likely to have been collected and recorded by botanists if it exists in any substantial populations.  Accordingly, this assessor is estimating the total population at less than 30 plants.

Costus vinosus is common in cultivation and used as an ornamental plant in gardens.  Based on experience in growing this species in cultivation, the assessor believes it would be particularly sensitive to habitat change. The species is known to be difficult to grow and bring to flower, very sensitive to cultural conditions and not prolific in flower and fruit. Since the last recorded collection was 10 years ago, and the collectors indicated there were few plants, it is possible that it is now extinct in the wild.



Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species was described by Paul Maas as "Only known from the type locality in the province of Colon, Panama; in rocky vegetation in forest shade, near river; in same vegetation: Heliconia imbricata, Calathea silvicola, and Cyclanthus bipartitus; flowering in June; fruiting in August-September."
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Costus vinosus is widely cultivated and used as an ornamental plant.  It is an especially attractive plant, prized by collectors.  The 1973 collection by Robert Dressler is known to have been cultivated at Lankester Gardens in Costa Rica.   An early accession record is at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens #1986-0224 indicates the plant received was from Dressler and was from Rio Guanche in Panama.  It is believed that further distribution to other botanical gardens and to the general public has resulted in its wide cultivation in the U. S. and no recent natural source for the cultivated plants has been found.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The type locality is mostly converted to pasture land and only very small patches of secondary forest remain along the river at the lower altitudes where this species was found. The species is no longer thought to be in this area. The Santa Rita location has visible deforested areas surrounding it and is not in a protected area. There is a threat of further habitat destruction.  The third area (Rio Taindi) is the most remote and has the lowest threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is currently no active in situ conservation plans for this species, but it is common in cultivation is and held in the living collections of several botanical gardens. All these plants are believed to be clones from a single collection, and to be lacking genetic diversity.  There are no protected areas where this species is believed to be growing in the wild.  It is recommended that further field work be completed searching for this species in the two localities where it was last reported, and seeds collected for ex situ genome seed banks.  The species should then be reintroduced in a protected area in similar habitat and closely monitored.

Citation: Skinner, D. 2014. Costus vinosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 September 2014.
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